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J Anxiety Disord. 2002;16(3):289-98.

Selective processing of emotional information in body dysmorphic disorder.

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University of Marburg, Germany.


Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a syndrome characterized by distress about imagined defects in one's appearance. Though categorized as a somatoform disorder, BDD is marked by many characteristics associated with social phobia (e.g., fear of negative evaluation) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (e.g., intrusive thoughts about one's ugliness, checking). In the present experiment, we tested whether BDD patients exhibit selective processing of threat in the emotional Stroop paradigm as do anxiety-disordered patients. Relative to healthy control participants, BDD patients exhibited greater Stroop interference for positive and negative words, regardless of disorder-relevance, than for neutral words. Further analyses suggested that interference tended to be greatest for positive words related to BDD. These data suggest that BDD patients are vulnerable to distraction by emotional cues in general, and by words related to their current concerns in particular. Results suggest that BDD may indeed be related to anxiety disorders such as social phobia.

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